Hani killer denied medical parole

By Drum Digital
30 January 2015

Clive Derby-Lewis, convicted of the murder of SACP leader Chris Hani, will not be released on medical parole, Justice Minister Michael Masutha said.

Clive Derby-Lewis, convicted for the murder of SACP leader Chris Hani, was denied medical parole on Friday.

This followed earlier reports that the medical parole board has recommended that Derby-Lewis, who suffers from lung cancer, be released from custody.

But Justice Minister Michael Masutha said he suffered from Stage 3 lung cancer; and inmates only qualified for medical parole if they suffered from Stage 4 cancer.

The minister also bemoaned Derby-Lewis's conduct in hospital, where he used another person's name instead of his own.

Masutha said he was not convinced that Derby-Lewis had shown real remorse for his actions.

Derby-Lewis is currently serving a life sentence for his role in the assassination of the SA Communist Party leader, in April 1993, and has repeatedly been denied parole.

Hani's murder sparked riots and fears for the transition to democracy ahead of the 1994 elections.

At the time, soon-to-be president Nelson Mandela called it "a deed so foul that our whole nation now teeters on the brink of disaster" in a speech in which he appealed for calm.

As a politician, Derby-Lewis had been involved in the National Party and then become a founder member of the Conservative Party in 1982 and a member of Parliament for the party in 1987.

He was considered a right-wing extremist and British journalist John Carlin famously described him as having a reputation for being a "rabid racist".

Former opposition leader Harry Schwarz described him as "the biggest racist in Parliament".

Even the Conservative Party conceded that his reported comments cost them support, with senior official Andries Beyers commenting: "I think sometimes he became an embarrassment to us. He was very, very hardline." At the time of his arrest, Derby-Lewis was standing in a by-election in Krugersdorp.

Derby-Lewis was arrested for aiding and abetting Janusz Walus, a Polish immigrant, in the assassination, and having lent him the gun used to shoot Hani in the driveway of his home.

He was found guilty of conspiracy to murder and sentenced to death but this was commuted to a life sentence after South Africa abolished capital punishment.

His second wife, Gaye Derby-Lewis, was also arrested and charged.

She was acquitted after it was found that a list of names of senior ANC and SACP members, including Mandela, was not a hit list.

Derby-Lewis confessed to his role in the assassination to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

He claimed he believed he had been following political orders from the Conservative Party and "acting in defence of my people, who were threatened with a Communist takeover" but was denied amnesty.

From 2007, he lodged the first of several parole applications, stating that he was suffering from skin and prostate cancer as well as gangrene in his leg.

He was born on 22 January 1936 in Cape Town. He grew up in Kimberley and studied at the then Christian Brothers' College, and before working for an accounting firm and an oil company. He spent some time at the Blessed Sacrament Church in Johannesburg before he left the Catholic Church in the early 1980s. He later joined the Afrikaanse Protestantse Kerk (English: Afrikaans Protestant Church), notably as a staunch supporter of apartheid.

He spent 19 years as a volunteer in the South African Citizen Force and became the youngest ever commanding officer of the Witwatersrand Rifles Regiment, affiliated with the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

He was awarded the John Chard Medal for long and meritorious service.

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